Stand-off leads to Scottish police freeing men held by British immigration force

London: A stand-off lasting several hours in Glasgow ended when Scottish police ordered the release on Thursday (Friday AEST) of men who had been detained by British immigration officials.

After hundreds of protesters blocked the path of a van carrying the detainees, the crowd clapped and cheered as one of the men waved and police officers made space for them to walk free.

Two men detained by the Home Office are released after protestors blocked the immigration van from leaving Kenmure Street in Glasgow, Scotland. Credit:Getty

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who wants to wrest immigration powers from the United Kingdom government, welcomed the police force’s actions and blamed the British government for what she called a “dangerous situation”.

Video footage showed two Asian men emerging from the back of a van belonging to Britain’s interior ministry, which sets immigration rules for the whole United Kingdom.

British immigration officers had originally asked local police for assistance after a crowd gathered to block them.

Police Scotland said in a statement that it had “taken the operational decision to release the men detained by UK Immigration Enforcement back into their community”.

Two men stand surrounded by police and protesters, after being released from the Immigration Enforcement police van.Credit:PA

The police force said it reached this decision “to protect the safety, public health and well-being of all people involved in the detention and subsequent protest”. Large gatherings are currently banned in Scotland as part of anti-COVID measures.

Sturgeon, whose Scottish Parliament electoral district includes the area where the incident took place, said she had complained to the British government and asked it to avoid such situations in future.

“No assurances were given – and frankly no empathy shown – when I managed to speak to a junior minister earlier,” she said in a statement.

Protesters block the immigration enforcement van.Credit:Getty

Britain’s interior ministry did not have an immediate comment.

Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party won the largest number of seats in an election for the Scottish Parliament last week, which she has said vindicates her call for a re-run of the 2014 referendum in which Scots voted against independence.

The SNP has also campaigned for Scotland’s government to receive powers to grant immigration visas.

Reuters

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